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R-MA survives scoring drought to stay perfect


By Dennis Atwood - sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Randolph-Macon Academy Yellow Jackets girls basketball team survived a fourth-quarter drought and a Fredericksburg Academy Falcons surge to hold on for a 38-29 win on Wednesday.

It was the Yellow Jackets' second victory in a week over their arch-rival, and brought their record to 10-0 at the halfway point of the season.

The Yellow Jackets took command in the first quarter on three field goals (one a putback offensive rebound) by junior wing guard Kalie Plasier, while junior Cara Brown made a layup off a steal and also dropped in a putback rebound to end the first frame with a 14-8 edge.

Both squads played a deliberate tempo second quarter, and the Falcons' half-court and three-quarter court press interrupted the Yellow Jackets' offensive flow.

With 5:05 remaining in the period, Randolph-Macon Academy freshman point guard Anastasia Voellm hit a field goal and 15 seconds later followed up with the first of the her two 3-pointers.

Neither squad scored in the last three minutes of the period, which R-MA used to add to its lead by outscoring the Falcons 7-6 to close out the half with a 21-14 advantage.

Junior Paige McDermott accounted for eight of the Falcons' (2-7) first-half points with three field goals and 2-for-2 free-throw shooting.

The Yellow Jackets returned to the court with their afterburners lit and scored off steals by Voellm (team-high 13 points, three rebounds, two steals) and forward Erin Dullahan (seven points, 11 rebounds, five steals) in the first 40 seconds of the third quarter.

With the Randolph-Macon Academy offense featuring quicker, crisper passing and more movement without the ball, Dullahan added two more field goals, and Voellm sank a free throw and drained her second long-ranger to complete a 12-0 run.

"That's what we worked on yesterday, the speed of our ball movement," Randolph-Macon Academy coach George Amos said. "They changed defenses on us a little bit from last week.

"Their 1-2-2 {defense} was perfectly matched against us and we talked about it at halftime. So, when they did it in the third quarter, we changed some things."

The Falcons managed to get on the board with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter on field goals by McDermott (game-high 15 points, three steals, three rebounds) and Courtney Hoffman.

Rather than folding their wings, the Falcons showed they had plenty of fight left by mounting a 9-0 run of their own in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter to close to within six, at 33-27, resulting in a Yellow Jackets' timeout.

"I thought when we did get open, we rushed, so I tried to calm them down and told them to keep the ball in the hands of the people we wanted to, and to set picks for each other if they were pressuring ... and they did, because we scored all five points of the quarter after that," Amos said.

After the chat, Voellm took an assist pass from freshman Allyson McManus and sank a field goal with two minutes left on the game clock.

"We played a good game, one of the best games we've played all season as a team," Voellm said. "We got open a lot in the middle and that opened up the press a little."

Hoffman then got a bucket for the Falcons at the 1:50 mark to again close the gap to six points.

Voellm's next attempt, at 1:15, rolled around the rim and fell off. With 54.6 seconds remaining, Dullahan got a trip to the free-throw line, where she sank 1-of-2 attempts, but Allyson McManus grabbed the rebound to retain the Yellow Jackets' possession.

With 30 seconds on the clock, Plasier (10 points, five rebounds, three assists) got off the game's last shot, which also rolled around the rim, then went vertical and fell through the net to seal the 38-29 victory.

"Anytime you take a bus trip like this (90 minutes), it's difficult to come out ready," Falcons coach Jeff Eckerson said. "We certainly played a much better second half than the first, and I was really proud the way my girls responded in the second half and came back."

In spite of their win, R-MA had turnover troubles, committing 31 miscues to 19 by Fredericksburg Academy.

There were few trips to the free-throw line, with the Yellow Jackets converting 2-of-8 attempts and the Falcons sinking 3-of-4 chances.

"Our defense is still what's going to carry us through," Amos said. "Between deflections and steals, we do that a lot. We started aggressively, we were not afraid to shoot the ball in the first half and that made them come out on us.

"We still turn the ball over too much and we don't rebound as well as we could. But you have to give them an 'A' for effort. You heard me saying, 'Make up for it on defense.' If you make a mistake on the offensive end or miss a shot, go down and make up for it on defense. I don't like the saying, 'We're scoring enough to win,' but we are because of our defense."



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